Over the course of the past month, one thing became abundantly clear: nobody at that firm was interested in hiring me, despite the fact that the HR lady told me in no uncertain terms, “It was down to you and one other person, and it was a really difficult decision.”
I called the HR lady several times, left a couple of messages, sent her e-mails, applied using the “apply online” form on their website, and when I didn’t get a response (okay, technically, one time I did get her on the phone, but it seemed like an accident and she tried as hard as she could to get me off the phone ASAP), I brought out the big guns. I don’t actually have any big guns, but what I mean by that is I e-mailed the department manager directly, since he was supposedly the one who liked me so much. He forwarded my resume back to HR, and the lady sent it back to me with a snippy e-mail saying she was already aware of my interest in the job but they were looking at candidates with legal experience first. Fair enough, although the fact that my “friend” Mark works in a library in a law firm doesn’t exactly make him Clarence Darrow, so I didn’t understand the big deal. Also, if the department manager wrote anything to her—like, for instance, “I loved this kid! Bring him in immediately!”—she deleted it when she sent the forwarded message back to me.
Meanwhile, Mark has sent me vaguely paranoid updates on his proceedings with the job. I’ve sent him responses designed to undermine his confidence under the illusion of supportiveness. Actually, after what I’d been through, I really did feel like I had no shot at the job—if even the department manager ignored my resume—so I guess I can’t be too mad at him. I was being stonewalled, and that, at least, wasn’t his fault. The HR lady definitely knew of my interest, and now the marketing manager also knew. So I figured, even though I didn’t really want Mark getting the job, I shouldn’t be a total asshole to him. At least he was honest enough to tell me…even if it was after-the-fact and only because I e-mailed him to say I saw the listing and was still interested.
Mark actually broke through to the second interview phase, and I thought, That’s it—I’m done for, he’s got the job. He e-mailed me at some point last week wondering how similar his experience was to my own. I told him it was pretty much the same, so he shouldn’t necessarily feel optimistic.
And, shock of shocks, he e-mailed me yesterday:
Subject: Does this sound familiar
Body: HR Lady: “It was down to you and one other person, and it was a really difficult decision.”
That pissed him off, and it pissed me off, and what’s worse, it’s not exactly a confidence booster. If “it was down to you and one other person” is her standard line, it crystallizes all the other bullshit I’ve put up with from the HR lady. Granted, she both excels at and enjoys railroading prospective candidates, so I guess it wouldn’t have any real effect on her to know that telling this to an applicant still gives them hope. Most job interviews, if you don’t get it, you don’t hear back, and if you do hear back, they just tell you they went with somebody else. Saying “you were ridiculously close to getting this job, but [insert minor, possibly bureaucratic reason for not getting the job]” just tells you, “You should troll the company website until the job pops back up and then pounce.” Finding out she told Mark the exact same thing, phrased the exact same way (only omitting the part about an internal candidate, since he was the internal candidate), makes me assume it was never down to me and one other person, or that if it was, the chasm between myself and the other candidate was impossibly big.
Lucy has a different, more optimistic perspective. She really does seem to think that—miracle of miracles—they really did like both of us, but for various reasons went with somebody else. In my case, they went with an internal candidate; with Mark, they apparently hired an actual attorney, which became a joke in his department. “An attorney got hired for a staff job? He must really suck.” I’m not sure if this means the responsibilities and/or qualifications for the job have changed, or maybe they just got along with the guy a little bit better. Who the hell knows?